Being Friends Post-Relationship

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    So I’ve posted on this forum a few times, and I’m not really looking for advice, but I would like to hear if anyone has a similar story to mine.

    I broke up with my “boyfriend” of 6 months in February of this year. I say “boyfriend” because we never did slap on the labels. He was always semi-uncomfortable with the term, but he was never uncomfortable with being exclusive. One day when I was getting ready to tell him I loved him, we had an entirely different conversation and he admitted that he couldn’t see a future with me, and that we’re too different etc. I don’t like the same music, etc… he said he couldn’t see us living together or getting married but he would like to keep seeing me. At the time he said he couldn’t really see being with anyone long-term, but now he says if he does find his ideal that would change. He thinks we should find people that are more suited to us as individuals. The whole thing was really perplexing, but not totally out of left field, because it had become increasing apparent that he could not be vulnerable with me and likely wouldn’t. There was a wall I could not penetrate. That day, I told him I loved him and he made me feel loved, and he said he loved me but I was not his one and only.

    At the time I was considering never seeing him again. I was put off by his proposition. That we could still see each other and that he would continue to benefit from my presence in some ways, but that he didn’t really need to invest in me in any real way. To make it more confusing he said that if I did want to keep seeing him, he likely wouldn’t be dating anyone else anytime soon. But what about your ideal woman, I thought.

    Oddly enough, I went out with him to an event a few weeks later. The event involved lots of booze, haha. It was part of his Christmas present and he said he still wanted me to go, so I did. I was cold with him at first, but I started to wonder if I could possibly benefit from spending time with someone who clearly cares for me, treats me well, is honest with me to the extent that he is able to (just never completely vulnerable), and that I have a good time with. We left toying with the idea that we could be quasi friends, with possible intimacy. He admitted that he’s never gone this route with any ex, and that usually he cuts ties instantly when he doesn’t see a future. I actually expected to lose feelings for him, because that’s what usually happens when someone takes a good shot at my self esteem. I usually wish to purge them from my system. It was annoying that it didn’t seem to be working with him.

    It seemed highly counterintuitive to keep seeing someone who you know won’t see a future with you. I figured it would be like slowly ripping the band aid off, instead of doing it all at once. So that’s what we’ve been doing, we see each other now, just as much, talk every day and we’ve both been on the apps searching for other people. I’ve gone on many dates, while he says he hasn’t, but we don’t talk about that too much. I continue to see him, trying to have full acceptance for the idea that I can love him and know that my time with him won’t last. It’s almost a really foolish exercise in acceptance and impermanence. I really dislike the idea especially at my age (33) that people in my life are completely disposable, because they may not check all the boxes. I would honestly like to remain friends with him, even if we do find other people who make us more happy all around. It’s given me a real chance to see what we really are together, and to ask myself if he was even someone I saw myself with long-term. I’m still not sure that I know that answer to that question.

    I would say our relationship or friendship, is deeper now, and oddly enough, I am able to be intimate with him without feeling used. I know we care for each other, so I’m just enjoying it for now.

    For anyone considering entering into a friends with benefits after a relationship with an ex, I would say it can give you a unique perspective. I am still not sure what lies ahead, but I don’t have any expectations or secret hopes. I do feel sad at times, as I feel like I still grieve the sense of hope that we had in our relationship together. If anything, I love him now more than ever, but I know that it doesn’t have to mean a forever. I’ve gotten to know him really well and it’s funny because I was telling a friend that he doesn’t just have trouble with letting me in, he won’t even let himself in.. He doesn’t want to look inward on his own, so it would be terrifying to let others in. The very next day he asked me about a dream he had and asked me for an interpretation. The dream literally translated to him not being able to see unrealized aspects of himself, to explore his feelings and that something was left unexplored. I feel like I have a lot more acceptance for who he is and who I am.

    I know I need to keep searching for someone who will be completely vulnerable and lately they’ve been popping out of the woodwork. Soon my friendship with my ex will need re-evaluating again. I just wonder what will come of it this time. I don’t wish to win him back or make him jealous. I think a lot of our roadblocks have let up too. He shares music with me now, and when I don’t understand some comedy reference he’s making he shows me a video of it to explain what he’s referring to.

    I’ve just been reading a lot about relationships on here and people sharing their depression, anxiety and general sadness at the loss of relationships. Some relationships are meant to be lost, and it is good to feel that sadness and move through it. It will not last forever, but one must feel all of the pain to get to the other side. There is always new light that comes. Sometimes though, we don’t need to lose people completely, sometimes we can move through pain together, or we find that we never really had what we thought we did anyways. You never know when you might find that inside a lover is a very good friend.


    Dear Michelle:

    What a powerful post. Reads to me that the two of you leaving behind, for now, the struggle to define the relationship, hopes and expectations of a defined, traditional relationship: dating-> exclusively dating-> commitment/ monogamy-> getting engaged-> getting married (and unfortunately, too often… -> separating-> getting a divorce) benefited the two of you and made closeness and intimacy happen naturally between the two of you.

    You wrote that you are not asking for advice, and asked if anyone has a similar story to yours. I don’t have a similar story to yours. And it’s been very slow here on the forums but I hope that there is someone else reading your story, and that he/she does have a similar story to share with you.


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